Series Engaging Newcomers in Language & Content: Scaffolding Text Structure for ELLs

Scaffolding Text Structure for ELLs

Lesson Objective: Write paragraphs using a claims, evidence, and reasoning structure
Grades 9-12 / All Subjects / ELL


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Discussion and Supporting Materials

Thought starters

  1. How do the colors guide students in their writing?
  2. What sentence starters do the students use for each section?
  3. How can this strategy be applied across subjects areas?


  • Private message to Emily Hein

What i like about this writing tecnique is that it has structure. Starts with a claim, then evidence and lastly reasons why. It also is helpful for it to be color coded to make sure they will not miss anything.

Recommended (0)
  • Private message to Allyson Newton

Love this! 

Just a heads up - Keep an eye out for those in class who may not be following the color coding. You may have students who are color blind - and they may not even know it yet. Be prepared to provide some sort of simple symbol to accompany the color coding. For example, accompany "Claim" with a star, "Evidence" with a check mark, and "Reason" with a small circle (for tying it all together).

Recommended (6)
  • Private message to Cade Patterson

This is a great way to get students to expand and strengthen their writing abilities and gives them more concrete details. The color coordination is a great way to help the students stay organized and stay on track. This is a great idea to use in the classroom.

Recommended (1)
  • Private message to Carleatha Nichols

Why can't I access supporting materials?

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  • Private message to Laura Henao
The structure used in this video is great to get students to expand on what they know and what they are learning. The color coding is also nice too. Do you find it difficult to engage students with the debates and how do you get them more involved?
Recommended (2)


  • Scaffolding Text Structure for ELLs Transcript
    Speaker 1: In order to have students organize their writing in a clear, concise

    Scaffolding Text Structure for ELLs Transcript
    Speaker 1: In order to have students organize their writing in a clear, concise way, I have students use a claim, evidence, reason, structure.
    So, our question, "Did world leaders make positive or negative choices during the Syrian Civil War?"
    In the past student were writing but they weren't necessarily elaborating to the point where they were really explaining what they wanted to say.
    Alright, why did you pick this one? Why is this one the strongest for you?
    So, when we noticed that, we introduced the structure of starting with a claim, moving on to some evidence, and then explaining why in your reasoning, and those all correspond to a different color. So our claims are blue, our evidence is red, and our reasons are green and students know that because we have an anchor chart in the room that they can reference frequently.
    The coloring just helps them to remember if they've already done one blue, one red and one green, they need to go back and do another claim, evidence, reason. So it helps them to sort of, build that structure over and over again, especially when they're writing a paragraph.
    Speaker 2: So, first Bashar Al-Assad chose to attack the Syrian people.
    Speaker 1: For all of these we use different sentence starters. For example, their claim should always start with a sequence word.
    Speaker 2: So for example, according to my text-
    Speaker 1: For evidence we use according to the text or based on the text.
    Speaker 2: This show that-
    Speaker 1: And for our reasons we always use, this shows blank because blank.
    Speaker 3: This show that Russia had the government-
    Speaker 1: So what I want to see from students is that their claim is pretty short, it's just a quick introduction of their idea. Red should be about double the size of their claim and then their reason should hopefully be very long. We want to see a really, a lot of green on that paper when they're writing.
    So [Urn 00:01:41] do you want to respond to Louise's point?
    Urn: Yeah, I disagree with her because according to the text it say-
    Speaker 1: When they present their arguments during the debate, they'll read those and then they'll place them on one side of the room or the other. They'll place it on the yes side, or the positive side, or they'll place it on the no answer or the negative side. It helps them to see evidence accumulate for one side or the other.
    I love that you're focusing on the idea that these are his own people that he's been attacking, right? Alright awesome.
    So building it into that weekly practice has helped it just become a natural part of our class.i'd also say building a debate structure in this way, I would suggest practicing on a topic that's more familiar to the students and then moving up to sort of grade level content or more rigorous content.

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School Details

ENLACE Academy

Lawrence, Massachusetts


Matt Clements
English Language Arts Social Studies / 9 10 / Teacher


Lesson Idea
26 min

Grade 1/ ELA/ Reading